Where Can I Point My CCTV Cameras?
CCTV cameras are an excellent way to monitor your property and deter thieves. With the help of a carefully positioned camera, you can monitor staff, prevent unauthorised access, and eliminate the threat of vandalism and other illegal activities.
The benefits of installing a CCTV system far outweigh simply locking your property’s door and “hoping” for the best. For domestic and commercial property owners, CCTV systems have become the number one security choice. However, installing one almost always raises the question, “Where can I point my CCTV camera?”
Things To Keep In Mind When Installing A CCTV System
Installing security cameras around your building is an obvious choice for keeping your premises safe and secure. However, once the CCTV system is installed, there are a number of rules and regulations that govern CCTV footage.
In some instances, the recordings are also subject to the Data Protection Act, which means you have some responsibilities to consider when placing cameras around your building.
What The Law Says
The laws governing CCTV systems and their usage are quite similar for residential and commercial properties. However, they have some minor differences.
CCTV Installation at Home
Several regulations apply to CCTV cameras and their usage. However, if your cameras only record footage within the boundary of your home, then the laws don’t apply to you.
For example, the perimeter of your premises would include the front door and garden; only footage captured outside this boundary is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
This doesn’t mean the footage you capture on your domestic CCTV system outside the boundary is illegal; it simply means you are now a data controller and must abide by certain legal obligations and data protection laws.
Home Owner Responsibilities
- Install signs that inform us that CCTV recording is taking place.
- Ensure you don’t capture any private conversations.
- Footage needs to be kept secure with limited access.
- Recordings need to be deleted regularly and only kept for a reasonable length of time.
- The surveillance cameras should not be misused.
- Provide images of those recorded within 30 days if requested.
- Family members should be made aware of the legal implications of any misuse.
CCTV Installation at Commercial Properties
Due to their remote location, owners of commercial properties often use CCTV systems to monitor and capture suspicious activity on their premises.
In addition, it provides peace of mind when employees need to gain access to the building and prevents unauthorised access and theft. However, although the use of CCTV is almost expected in the business world, its use is still regulated by data protection laws.
Business Owner Responsibilities
- Commercial CCTV rules must be adhered to:
- Register with the ICO as a CCTV operator and state the purpose of your CCTV system.
- A Privacy Impact Assessment must be done and published accordingly, along with the name of someone within your business who people can contact should they have questions or complaints about your CCTV system.
- Signs must be mounted that clearly state that CCTV surveillance is in operation.
- Ensure all staff are aware of their responsibilities, and the policies and procedures regarding CCTV surveillance.
- Keep saved footage secure and don’t keep it for longer than necessary (31 days is standard).
- Restrict staff access to CCTV footage and implement a disclosure policy.
- Don’t record conversations between members of the public.
- Follow recognised technical and operational standards when required.
- Don’t install CCTV in private places (e.g. changing rooms or toilets).
- Ensure the date and time are set correctly, just in case any footage is needed by the police or used as evidence in court.
- Regularly audit your CCTV operation for legal requirements and policies and publish those findings in a document.
- Ensure your reference database is accurate and up-to-date.
Data Protection Laws
Any type of CCTV, whether used for domestic or commercial reasons, is covered by the DPA and the ICO. It is strongly advised that anyone employing CCTV does a Data Privacy Impact Assessment to ensure that they are not invading the privacy of data subjects.
- People can request access to the data you hold about them verbally or in writing. You must respond in thirty days and provide a copy of the recording.
- Data subjects can request you delete the footage you hold of them. You can refuse to delete the footage if it’s needed for a genuine, legal dispute. In this case, they should either challenge your decision in court or complain to the ICO.
What Are The Consequences of Breaking The Law?
Failure to comply with your data protection obligations can result in enforcement action being taken by the ICO and a possible fine.
“The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regulates and enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).”
It also could result in costly legal action taken by individuals objecting to the perceived invasion of their privacy.
Questions to Ask Before Installing CCTV Cameras
- Why do you need a CCTV system? Is it for security reasons?
- Does it need to record constantly?
- Is audio recording a necessary feature?
- Will the footage the CCTV captures intrude on a neighbour’s property, another company’s premises, or public space?
- How can I limit the intrusion of surveillance cameras on other people’s privacy?
Security Cameras in the Best Positions and Locations
The first step to remaining on the right side of the law while protecting the security of your home is to respect the privacy of others.
In the case of businesses, the use of CCTV cameras protects the premises and ensures public safety by preventing anti-social behaviour. However, placing your cameras in appropriate locations can mean the difference between complaints and compliance.
Front Entrance Camera
The front door of any building is the most vulnerable to would-be thieves. If they can gain easy access by simply walking straight into your premises, they will. One of the best locations for a front door camera is on the second floor of your building or home. This prevents thieves from damaging it and gaining entry. Cameras should be focused on your premise’s front door and not capture the front doors of neighbouring properties.
Protecting the front and rear doors of your building or private property is essential to deterring criminal activity. A back door, in particular, can represent an easy access point for thieves because it’s usually tucked away from sight behind the building. By placing a camera overlooking the front and back doors, the entry points of the building are protected. Be mindful that the back door camera does not capture footage outside of your property boundary.
Windows that don’t face a busy street or overlook public areas are easy targets for criminals looking to access your building without being noticed. Position your home security cameras or commercial CCTV to capture ground floor windows hidden from public view.
The area behind residential and commercial properties is a particularly vulnerable area of a property. To keep this area safe, homeowners and business owners can use a combination of cameras and security system lighting solutions to prevent criminals from gaining access to their property. In addition, cameras can easily be disguised to capture video footage of anyone gaining unauthorised access. Of course, you will still need to put up signs confirming surveillance is taking place, which will deter most thieves.
While most believe CCTV is for external use, this is a common misconception. Cameras can also be placed indoors overlooking doors and windows to capture CCTV images of those gaining unauthorised access to your home or building. An internal camera might not deter a thief from entering, as they won’t see the camera until they are inside. However, a monitoring system that employs CCTV operators will ensure the thieves are identified, and the assistance of the local authorities is requested.
Residential and commercial garages typically have internal doors that link them to the house or business property; as a result, burglaries via these routes are a common occurrence and for good reason, they are usually areas with low foot traffic. Therefore, place cameras overlooking the garage or driveway to record any suspicious activity.
Final Camera Considerations
The effectiveness of CCTV cameras is determined by a number of factors, such as the lens size of your security camera, the angle and their accessibility.
- The path of the cameras should be pointed at vulnerable access points on your property.
- The lens size of your security camera is vital for picture clarity; choose a lens that distinguishes small pixels in detail.
- Cameras should be positioned at a high angle to provide a maximum view of the surrounding area.
Things to be Mindful of when Using a CCTV System
Installing a CCTV system provides peace of mind and can be used to reduce the cost of your home or business insurance. In most cases, CCTV cameras deter thieves and criminal activity. The footage captured can also be used as evidence when making an insurance claim or holding a disciplinary hearing.
Installing these systems comes with some responsibility; for example, if your camera infringes on your neighbour’s privacy, you may need to consider a privacy filter to protect their rights.
Below are some steps you can take to ensure your cameras are compliant with the law.
- Ensure members of the public are aware your property is being recorded by putting up signs.
- Use your CCTV system only for legitimate interests, i.e., monitoring your premises, not for unauthorised surveillance.
- Comply with the Data Protection Rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a CCTV Camera be Pointed Directly at My House?
Neighbours that position cameras to capture footage outside their private residence’s boundary must comply with the GDPR and Data Protection Act Rules.
They will need to ensure their CCTV system complies with these laws, as failure to do so could result in action being taken by the Information Commissioners’ Office and a possible fine.
Legal action can also be taken by those who have the camera records. You have the right to request the individual provide a copy of the data they hold about you, which they must supply within thirty days. Alternatively, you can ask them to delete the footage; should they refuse, you have the right to seek legal advice.
Do I Need to Display CCTV Signs at Home?
It is noted that CCTV cameras that point within a private property’s boundary do not require signage to notify others that they are being recorded. However, if the camera captures footage outside of the property boundary, then signage is needed. In addition, signage can be beneficial in deterring potential intruders because they know they will be caught on camera.
Can Neighbours Complain About CCTV?
If your CCTV cameras capture your neighbour’s property and their activities or images, you are governed by the GDPR and Data Protection Act. This means they have a right to know when they are being recorded and the type of information they are collecting.
If you refuse to provide them with this information, a ‘subject access request‘ can be made to the ICO. They can also ask you to delete the footage, but you can refuse their request if it is being used as evidence in a legal dispute.
Where Should Security Cameras be Placed Outside?
Security cameras should be placed at vulnerable points around the building’s perimeter. The front door, back door, rear window, garage, and driveway are some of the best locations for CCTV camera surveillance systems.
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